Asian Boxing Outlook: Imperatives in Post Covid Lockdown
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Tue, 30 Jun 2020
Many Asian countries have begun to ease restrictions to revive their battered economies and start the transition to the new normal at the heels of a near global lockdown on account of the still ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Boxing, however, among commercial recreational and entertainment sports, is having a difficult time in getting back in still many countries in the region due to pending health as well as viability concerns and issues.
China, Japan and South Korea are leading the region in putting into motion plans and measures to restart and resume boxing in a safe manner which also gives room for viability by way of commercially supported controlled live and televised events.
But traditional boxing hub countries as the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia as well as emerging fightsport events hosts as Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and India are encountering problems due to questions on health safeguards in face of the still rising local Covid-19 cases. Travel restrictions on foreigners are still in effect in many of those countries.
And then there is also the issue in those countries of financial viability as commercial sponsors may not be as willing to provide their usual support as business has also been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Local fight promoters and organizers particularly of boxing events featuring foreign boxers are also hindered by the extra expenses in implementing health safeguards as the mandated testing and the hotel quarantine requirements.
But reviving boxing in Asia is important as the region is the biggest commercial market of the sport in the world, far bigger than America and Europe combined.
And there's the fact that the region hosts many of boxing's top world champions and rated fighters, most of whom are crowd attractions at home and abroad.
Japan has six to seven reigning world titlists namely Ryota Murata at 160, Ryosuke Iwasa at 122, Naoya Inoue at 118, Kazuto Ioka at 115, Kosei Tanaka at 112 and Hiroto Kyoguchi and Ken Shiro at 108. Inoue and Kyoguchi are even multiple belt holders at their current weight class.
The Philippines has currently four led by Manny Pacquiao at 147, Johnriel Casimero at 118, Jerwin Ancajas at 115 and Pedro Taduran at 105. In addition, Nonito Donaire, Giemel Magramo and Marco John Rementizo are slated for world title challenge anytime soon. The boxing world is also eagerly awaiting the return to action of Pacquiao, the former pound for pound king and the sport's lone remaining superstar and certified cash cow.
Thailand has two namely Wanheng Menayothin and Chayapoon Monsri, both at 105. But it has also a lot of world rated fighters bannered by ex world titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvusai. Menayothin currently holds the best fight record of 54-0 surpassing Floyd Mayweather.
China only has one, Xu Can at 126 but has a bevy of world rated and caliber fighters led by Meng Fan Long at 175 and Zhang Zhelie at heavyweight. Fan Long is the mandatory to world light heavyweight champion Arthur Beterbiev.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also have two and one each in Gennady Golovkin at 160 and Beibut Shumenob at cruiserweight and Morudjon Akhmadaliev at 122, respectively. These fighters are renowned and respected in their divisions. Promising world class fighters are also being churned out by those two Asian boxing regional powerhouses.
South Korea has no world champion or rated fighters but it was the first to resume boxing in the region in the post Covid-19 lockdown as it continues its efforts to get back to the status it once enjoyed in the 80s and 90s.
It is easy to see the motivation of authorities in Japan, China and South Korea for their eagerness and determination to work for the return of boxing in their countries and in the region and the world for that matter for they have a big stake in the sport's future, Covid or no Covid.
With the richest boxing market in the planet and having seventeen world champions, many of whom are marquee names in the region and around the globe, there is no way for the fight sport to be in Asia but BACK.
In view of this, the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) under Chairman Abraham Mitra and his two able Commissioners, Eduard Trinidad and Mar Masanguid along with Boxing Chief Dr Jess Garcia and Medical Chief Redentor Viernes and the local boxing community have to work hand in gloves so to say with the DOH led National Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease to ensure the safe and viable return of boxing in the Philippines in the soonest possible time.
We don't want to be left behind by our neighbors.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.
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